alexa Organic enrichment by macrophyte detritus, and abundance patterns of megafaunal populations in submarine canyons
Geology & Earth Science

Geology & Earth Science

Journal of Oceanography and Marine Research

Author(s): EWVetter, PKDayton

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Submanne canyons can provide large quantities of food in aggregated form on the deepsea floor by acting as conduits for manne macrophyte production produced in the intertidal and shallow subtidal zone. Longshore transport dehvers substantial quantities of macrophyte detntus fronl surfgrass Phyllospadix lorreyi, kelps Macrocystis pyrifera and Egregia menziesii, and other macroalgae to the heads of Scripps and La Jolla Submarine Canyons. Strong tidal and gravity currents distribute this material throughout much of the canyon System, where it is utilized as food and habitat by benthic fauna. Video data taken from remotely operated vehicles and submarines were used to evaluate differences in detrital Cover and megafaunal abundance In the canyons, and at nearby reference Stations. Within the canyons dense mats of detntus were common down to 550 m, and M. pyrifera holdfasts were observed at 700 and 900 m. Virtually no dnft material was observed out of the canyons. Comparisons of megafaunal invertebrates in and out of the canyons revealed generally higher densities at noncanyon sites due to large numbers of urchins. Species richness of all megafauna and abundance of nonurchin megafauna were greater in the canyons than out. It is likely that urchin abundance in canyons is reduced through disturbance by currents and detrital flows in the canyons. Species nchness and abundance of fishes were greater in the canyons at all depths for which comparative data were available (100 to 500 m). From 150 to 200 m in Scripps Canyon, juvenile Pacific hake Merlucciusproductus were so abundant at tirnes that their bodies obscured visibility. Turbot Pleuronichfhys sp. and zoarcids Lycodes pacifica were also abundant in Scripps Canyon from 100 to 300 m. Data from this study support the hypotheses that macrophyte detntus Covers large areas of the La JoLla and Scripps Canyon axis, and that megafaunal abundance 1s associated with detritus at both large and small spatial scales

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This article was published in MARINE ECOLOGY PROGRESS SERIES and referenced in Journal of Oceanography and Marine Research

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